Mizzou hoops slate features these five intriguing story lines
ST. LOUIS — The Southeastern Conference announced its 2013
basketball schedule Tuesday, perhaps in an attempt to squeeze a dose of
hoops into the news before the football-crazed league kicks off. For
some SEC schools, basketball matters.
Mizzou is one such
institution. So before football is upon us, let’s take a look at the
most intriguing games on Mizzou’s hoops schedule now that the 2013-14
slate has taken shape.
1) UCLA at Mizzou, Dec. 7, Columbia
Bruins make the trip Columbia after crushing the Tigers’ hearts in a
97-94 overtime loss in California last year. Missouri will have
refreshed most of its roster since, but the Bruins will return three
starters from an NCAA Tournament team. They will also be playing under
former New Mexico coach Steve Alford, who left the Lobos with about as
much class as Mike Anderson left Mizzou. (Alford agreed to a multi-year
extension in New Mexico before bolting less than a week later.)
2) Illinois vs. Mizzou, Dec. 21, St. Louis
Kansas out of the rivalry equation for what seems like forever, the
Braggin’ Rights game is the most storied hoops rivalry this team has.
And Mizzou has had the upper hand for a while. The series has been
played annually since 1983, and the Tigers have now matched their
longest win streak since four consecutive W’s from 1991-94. All signs
point to Illini coach John Groce being the real deal. Can he snap the
streak in Year 2?
3) Kentucky at Mizzou, Feb. 1, Columbia
your popcorn ready. That down year Kentucky had last season — A John
Calipari team lost in the first round of the NIT! — will likely be the
motivating factor for a Wildcats team loaded with more young talent than
any other school in the country. Buy tickets to this one and you are
sure to see some future NBA players, such as sophomore center Willie
Cauley-Stein and sophomore forward Alex Poythress. Oh, and Calipari
landed six of the nation’s top 11 players in the class of 2013. The
one-and-done Wildcats should be worth the price of admission.
4) Mizzou at Ole Miss, Feb. 8, Oxford, Miss.
will you be joining us? Of course Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson
hasn’t gone away. Despite being suspended indefinitely for his
off-the-court issues, Henderson is in the process of working his way
back into the favor of the team and school. And personally, I hope the
kid gets on track and plays. The MVP of the SEC Tournament is the only
kind of player who can cast a special spell over Tiger fans — he ticks
them off as much as a Jayhawk would.
5) Arkansas at Mizzou, Feb. 13, Columbia
back, Mike! You know how I said Illinois-Mizzou is the best rivalry now
that the Border War is dead? It is. But Mizzou-Arkansas has some
serious potential. Not only do these schools go head-to-head for
recruits in most every sport, the man in the nice suit on the sideline
for the Razorbacks used to be Mizzou’s own. Remember, Tigers coach Frank
Haith nearly went after Anderson last year in Columbia when Anderson
said something Haith didn’t approve of. There’s no reason sparks
shouldn’t continue to fly every time CMA arrives in CoMo.
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.